Intro to Color Theory

My primary craft is painting. While the rest of the ladies here are phenomenal with fiber arts, I’m merely mediocre in them, but I excel in other areas. It’s one of the best parts about the Stitch Niche– we all have our niche!

Thankfully, while my knitting skills are non-existent, and my crochet skills leave a bit to be desired, I’ve found that helping folks out with color– be it for quilting or yarn projects, has become one of the things I do a lot around the shop.

But the first, and most important rule of color…

If you like it? That’s what matters. If a mix of colors makes you happy, that’s what’s important. Don’t let anyone tell you differently!

But if you’re interested in how colors work, how things “match,” and so forth, read on!

Everyone remembers the color wheel, and primary colors from school. It was one of the things that our de-funded art classes still were able to teach. Primary colors, of course, being red, blue, and yellow. Every other color out there comes from a mix of these three.

And after that, you get your secondary colors of green, orange, and purple, and then tertiary colors, and from there the levels of each color make a gazillion other ones. …And yes, that is totally the technical term. Gazillion. There are technically infinite colors, but we can only see a limited number.

So how do all of these colors work together? This is where we get into complementary and analogous color themes.

In a nutshell, complementary colors are colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. Generally this is color schemes such as purples and yellows, blues and oranges, and reds and greens. Sometimes though? Sometimes these colors don’t actually work together well. Complementary colors are generally best for things you want to be bold and loud.

So then we get to analogous colors! Those are colors that are close together on the color wheel, and tend to blend in. That’s best for things where you want some subtlety to the pattern. But be warned– they can wash themselves out.


Overall, you want to find some harmony in your colors. Some balance. Even out something super loud with something relatively muted. You don’t want to overstimulate your eyes, but nor do you want them to be underwhelmed either.

This can take practice.. but again, if something looks good to you, that’s what matters.

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